US News “Best” Diets: Rebuttal 2

Thanks you to everyone who reposted and spread via social network the previous post. Below you will find an updated rebuttal with contributions for Pedro Bastos and Maelan Fontes. Additionally you will find a list of the experts who reviewed the diets, and linkes to Portuguese language sites which have translated the rebuttal. We will have Spanish language rebuttals available soon. I am writing a formal request to US News for an opportunity to address this issue in their publication.

Please repost and link to this information!

Rebuttal to U.S. News and World Top 20 Diets

Loren Cordain1, Ph.D., Maelán Fontes Villalba2 and Pedro Carrera Bastos2

Department of Health and Exercise Science. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, US

Center for Primary Health Care Research. Faculty of Medicine, at Lund University, Malmö, Sweden


The writer of this article suggests that the Paleo Diet has only been scientifically tested in “one tiny study”.  This quote is incorrect as five studies (1-7); four since 2007, have experimentally tested contemporary versions of ancestral human diets and have found them to be superior to Mediterranean diets, diabetic diets and typical western diets in regards to weight loss, cardiovascular disease risk factors and risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

The first study to experimentally test diets devoid of grains, dairy and processed foods was performed by Dr. Kerin O’Dea at the University of Melbourne and published in the Journal, Diabetes in 1984 (6).  In this study Dr. O’Dea gathered together 10 middle aged Australian Aborigines who had been born in the “Outback”.  They had lived their early days primarily as hunter gatherers until they had no choice but to finally settle into a rural community with access to western goods.  Predictably, all ten subjects eventually became overweight and developed type 2 diabetes as they adopted western sedentary lifestyles in the community of Mowwanjum in the northern Kimberley region of Western Australia.  However, inherent in their upbringing was the knowledge to live and survive in this seemingly desolate land without any of the trappings of the modern world.

Dr. O’Dea requested these 10 middle-aged subjects to revert to their former lives as hunter gatherers for a seven week period.  All agreed and traveled back into the isolated land from which they originated.  Their daily sustenance came only from native foods that could be foraged, hunted or gathered.  Instead of white bread, corn, sugar, powdered milk and canned foods, they began to eat the traditional fresh foods of their ancestral past: kangaroos, birds, crocodiles, turtles, shellfish, yams, figs, yabbies (freshwater crayfish), freshwater bream and bush honey.   At the experiment’s conclusion, the results were spectacular, but not altogether unexpected given what known about Paleo diets, even then.  The average weight loss in the group was 16.5 lbs; blood cholesterol dropped by 12 % and triglycerides were reduced by a whopping 72 %.  Insulin and glucose metabolism became normal, and their diabetes effectively disappeared.

The first recent study to experimentally test contemporary Paleo diets was published in 2007 (5). Dr. Lindeberg and associates placed 29 patients with type 2 diabetes and heart disease on either a Paleo diet or a Mediterranean diet based upon whole grains, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, fish, oils, and margarines.  Note that the Paleo diet excludes grains, dairy products and margarines while encouraging greater consumption of meat and fish.  After 12 weeks on either diet blood glucose tolerance (a risk factor for heart disease) improved in both groups, but was better in the Paleo dieters.  In a  2010 follow-up publication, of this same experiment the Paleo diet was shown to be more satiating on a calorie by calorie basis than the Mediterranean diet because it caused greater changes in leptin, a hormone which regulates appetite and body weight.

In the second modern study (2008) of Paleo Diets, Dr. Osterdahl and co-workers (7) put 14 healthy subjects on a Paleo diet.  After only three weeks the subjects lost weight, reduced their waist size and experienced significant reductions in blood pressure, and plasminogen activator inhibitor (a substance in blood which promotes clotting and accelerates artery clogging).  Because no control group was employed in this study, some scientists would argue that the beneficial changes might not necessarily be due to the Paleo diet.  However, a better controlled more recent experiments showed similar results.

In 2009, Dr. Frasetto and co-workers (1) put nine inactive subjects on a Paleo diet for just 10 days.  In this experiment, the Paleo diet was exactly matched in calories with the subjects’ usual diet.  Anytime people eat diets that are calorically reduced, no matter what foods are involved, they exhibit beneficial health effects.  So the beauty of this experiment was that any therapeutic changes in the subjects’ health could not be credited to reductions in calories, but rather to changes in the types of food eaten.  While on the Paleo diet either eight or all nine participants experienced improvements in blood pressure, arterial function, insulin, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.  What is striking about this experiment is how rapidly so many markers of health improved, and that they occurred in every single patient.

In an even more convincing recent (2009) experiment, Dr. Lindeberg and colleagues (2) compared the effects of a Paleo diet to a diabetes diet generally recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes.  The diabetes diet was intended to reduce total fat by increasing whole grain bread and cereals, low fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables while restricting animal foods.   In contrast, the Paleo diet was lower in cereals, dairy products, potatoes, beans, and bakery foods but higher in fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs compared to the diabetes diet.  The strength of this experiment was its cross over design in which all 13 diabetes patients first ate one diet for three months and then crossed over and ate the other diet for three months.  Compared to the diabetes diet, the Paleo diet resulted in improved weight loss, waist size, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (a marker for long term blood glucose control).    This experiment represents the most powerful example to date of the Paleo diet’s effectiveness in treating people with serious health problems.

So, now that I have summarized the experimental evidence supporting the health and weight loss benefits of Paleo Diets, I would like to directly respond to the errors in the U.S. News and World Report article.


1. “Will you lose weight? No way to tell.”

Obviously, the author of this article did not read either the study by O’Dea (6) or the more powerful three month crossover experiment by Jonsson and colleagues (9) which demonstrated the superior weight loss potential of high protein, low glycemic load Paleo diets.  Similar results of high protein, low glycemic load diets have recently been reported in the largest randomized controlled trials ever undertaken in both adults and children.

A 2010 randomized trial involving 773 subjects and published in the New England Journal of Medicine (8) confirmed that high protein, low glycemic index diets were the most effective strategy to keep weight off.   The same beneficial effects of high protein, low glycemic index diets were dramatically demonstrated in largest nutritional trial, The DiOGenes Study (9), ever conducted in a sample of 827 children. Children assigned to low protein, high glycemic diets became significantly fatter over the 6 month experiment, whereas those overweight and obese children assigned to the high protein, low glycemic nutritional plan lost significant weight.


2. “Does it have cardiovascular benefits? Unknown.”

This comment shows just how uninformed this writer really is.  Clearly, this person hasn’t read the following papers (1 – 6), which unequivocally show the therapeutic effects of Paleo Diets upon cardiovascular risk factors. Moreover, as we have already reviewed elsewhere (10-12), high protein diets have been shown to improve dyslipidemia and insulin sensitivity, and are potential effective strategies for improving metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, mounting evidence suggests that a reduced-carbohydrate diet (which is obviously lower in sugars and cereal grains) may be superior to a western type low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, especially in metabolic syndrome patients, because it may lead to better improvement in insulin resistance, postprandial lipemia, serum fasting triglycerides and HDL-C, total cholesterol/HDL-C ratio, LDL particle distribution, apo B/apo A-1 ratio, postprandial vascular function, and various inflammatory biomarkers (13, 14).

Finally, the evidence for recommending whole grains to reduce cardiovascular disease risk is based on epidemiological studies or intervention trials with soft end-points, while randomized controlled trials with hard end points do not seem to support it. For instance, the DART study, found a tendency towards increased cardiovascular mortality in the group advised to eat more fiber, the majority of which was derived from cereal grains (15). And of relevance, this non-significant effect became statistically significant, after adjustment for possible confounding factors, such as medication and health state (16).


And all that fat would worry most experts.”

This statement represents a “scare tactic” unsubstantiated by the data.  As I, and almost the entire nutritional community, have previously pointed out, it is not the quantity of fat which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease or cancer, or any other health problem, but rather the quality.  Contemporary Paleo Diets contain high concentrations of healthful omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids that actually reduce the risk for chronic disease (10-12, 17-22).


3. “Can it prevent or control diabetes? Unknown.”

Here is another example of irresponsible and biased journalism, which doesn’t let the facts speak for themselves.  Obviously, the author did not read the study by O’Dea (6) or Jonsson et al. (2), which showed dramatic improvements in type 2 diabetics consuming Paleo diets.


but most diabetes experts recommend a diet that includes whole grains and dairy products.

If the truth be known, in a randomized controlled trial, 24 8-y-old boys were asked to take 53 g of protein as milk or meat daily (23).  After only 7 days on the high milk diet, the boys became insulin resistant.  This is a condition that precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.  In contrast, in the meat-group, there was no increase in insulin and insulin resistance.  Furthermore, in the Jonsson et al. study (2) milk and grain free diets were shown to have superior results in improving disease symptoms in type 2 diabetics.

Finally, in an interventional study including 2263 postmenopausal women, participants were assigned to a low-fat (<20% en), high whole-grain fiber (>6 servings per day), high fruit (>5 per day) and high vegetable (>5 servings per day) diet or comparison group with no advice. After 6 years of follow-up, those women with diabetes at the start of the study, and allocated to the low-fat/high whole-grain fiber, actually worsened their glucose control (24). Notwithstanding, the majority of the evidence, supports the beneficial effect of soluble fiber, found mainly in vegetables and fruits, while the evidence supporting the beneficial effects of insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, seems less evident (25-28).


4. “Are there health risks? Possibly. By shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients.”

Once again, this statement shows the writer’s ignorance and blatant disregard for the facts.  Because contemporary ancestral diets exclude processed foods, dairy and grains, they are actually more nutrient (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) dense than government recommended diets such as the food pyramid.    I have pointed out these facts in a paper I published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005 (11) along with another paper in which I analyzed the nutrient content of modern day Paleo diets (19).  In addition, micronutrient analysis derived from the two studies performed by Lindeberg, et al. (5) and Jönsson et al. (2) shows that, except for calcium, a Paleolithic type diet, not only meets all of the micronutrients DRI, but in some cases exceeds that of the whole grain and dairy food diets. Regarding vitamin D, as we have already pointed out in a recent paper (12), except for fatty ocean fish, there is very little vitamin D in any commonly consumed natural (that is, not artificially fortified) food, and throughout history, almost all hominins (except for those living in the far North, such as the Inuit people) depended on the sun to satisfy their vitamin D requirements.

Moreover, most nutritionists are aware that processed foods made with refined grains, sugars and vegetable oils have low concentrations of vitamins and minerals, but not all have realized that dairy products and whole grains contain significantly lower concentrations of the 13 vitamins and minerals most lacking in the U.S. diet compared to lean meats, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables (11, 19). Interestingly, although micronutrient intake is important, intestinal absorption is even more impactful. It is widely known that some antinutrients contained in cereal grains, such as phytate, binds to divalent minerals (i.e., zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium) compromising their absorption (29).

Also, if you’re not careful about making lean meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems” .

Actually, the most recent comprehensive meta-analyses and reviews do not show fresh meat consumption whether fat or lean to be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (30-34), only processed meats such as salami, bologna, bacon and sausages (30).


1. Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian A: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009.

2. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35

3. Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Erlanson-Albertsson C, Ahren B, Lindeberg S. A Paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Nov 30;7(1):85

4. Jonsson T, Ahren B, Pacini G, Sundler F, Wierup N, Steen S, Sjoberg T, Ugander M, Frostegard J, Goransson Lindeberg S: A Paleolithic diet confers higher insulin sensitivity, lower C-reactive protein and lower blood pressure than a cereal-based diet in domestic pigs. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2006, 3:39.

5. Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, Ahren B: A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007, 50(9):1795-1807.

6. O’Dea K: Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes 1984, 33(6):596-603.

7. Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wandell PE: Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008, 62(5):682-685.

8. Larsen TM, Dalskov SM, van Baak M, Jebb SA, Papadaki A, Pfeiffer AF, Martinez JA, Handjieva-Darlenska T, Kunešová M, Pihlsgård M, Stender S, Holst C, Saris WH, Astrup A; Diet, Obesity, and Genes (Diogenes) Project. Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance. N Engl J Med. 2010 Nov 25;363(22):2102-13

9. Papadaki A, Linardakis M, Larsen TM, van Baak MA, Lindroos AK, Pfeiffer AF, Martinez JA, Handjieva-Darlenska T, Kunesová M, Holst C, Astrup A, Saris WH, Kafatos A; DiOGenes Study Group. The effect of protein and glycemic index on children’s body composition: the DiOGenes randomized study. Pediatrics. 2010 Nov;126(5):e1143-52

10. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Miller JB, Mann N, Hill K. The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: meat-based, yet non-atherogenic. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;56 Suppl 1:S42-52

11. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):341-54.

12. Carrera-Bastos P, Fontes Villalba M, O’Keefe JH, Lindeberg S, Cordain L. The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization. Res Rep Clin Cardiol 2011; 2: 215-235.

13. Westman EC, Feinman RD, Mavropoulos JC, et al. Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Aug;86(2):276-84.

14. Volek JS, Fernandez ML, Feinman RD, et al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction induces a unique metabolic state positively affecting atherogenic dyslipidemia, fatty acid partitioning, and metabolic syndrome. Prog Lipid Res. 2008; 47, 307–318.

15. Fish and the heart. Lancet. 1989 Dec 16;2(8677):1450-2

16. Ness AR, Hughes J, Elwood PC, Whitley E, Smith GD, Burr ML. The long-term effect of dietary advice in men with coronary disease: follow-up of the Diet and Reinfarction trial (DART). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jun;56(6):512-8

17. Cordain L. Saturated fat consumption in ancestral human diets: implications for contemporary intakes.  In: Phytochemicals, Nutrient-Gene Interactions, Meskin MS, Bidlack WR, Randolph RK (Eds.), CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), 2006, pp. 115-126.

18. Cordain L, Miller JB, Eaton SB, Mann N, Holt SH, Speth JD. Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Mar;71(3):682-92.

19. Cordain L. The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. J Am Nutraceut Assoc 2002; 5:15-24.

20. Kuipers RS, Luxwolda MF, Dijck-Brouwer DA, Eaton SB, Crawford MA, Cordain L, Muskiet FA. Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet. Br J Nutr. 2010 Dec;104(11):1666-87.

21. Ramsden CE, Faurot KR, Carrera-Bastos P, Cordain L, De Lorgeril M, Sperling LS.Dietary fat quality and coronary heart disease prevention: a unified theory based on evolutionary, historical, global, and modern perspectives. Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2009 Aug;11(4):289-301.

22. Cordain L, Watkins BA, Florant GL, Kelher M, Rogers L, Li Y. Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;56(3):181-91

23. Hoppe C, Mølgaard C, Vaag A, Barkholt V, Michaelsen KF. High intakes of milk, but not meat, increase s-insulin and insulin resistance in 8-year-old boys. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Mar;59(3):393-8.

24. Shikany JM, Margolis KL, Pettinger M, Jackson RD, Limacher MC, Liu S, et al. Effects of a low-fat dietary intervention on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May 11 [Epub ahead of print]

25.    Mann JI, De Leeuw I, Hermansen K, Karamanos B, Karlström B, Katsilambros N, et al. Evidence-based nutritional approaches to the treatment and prevention of diabetes mellitus. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2004 Dec.;14(6):373–394.

26.    Robertson MD, Bickerton AS, Dennis AL, Vidal H, Frayn KN. Insulin-sensitizing effects of dietary resistant starch and effects on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue metabolism. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2005 Sep.;82(3):559–567.

27.    Erkkilä AT, Lichtenstein AH. Fiber and cardiovascular disease risk: how strong is the evidence? J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2006;21(1):3–8.

28.    Chandalia M, Garg A, Lutjohann D, Bergmann von K, Grundy SM, Brinkley LJ. Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. N. Engl. J. Med. 2000 May 11;342(19):1392–1398.

29. Cordain L. Cereal grains: humanity’s double-edged sword. World Rev Nutr Diet. 1999;84:19-73.

30. Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation. 2010 Jun 1;121(21):2271-83

31. Micha R, Mozaffarian D. Saturated fat and cardiometabolic risk factors, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a fresh look at the evidence. Lipids. 2010 Oct;45(10):893-905. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

32. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010 Nov;12(6):384-90.

33. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):502-9

34. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46


Experts Who Reviewed the Diets

A panel of 22 health experts including nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behavior, and weight loss, reviewed detailed assessments prepared by U.S. News of 20 diets. The experts rated each diet in seven categories, including short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety, and nutrition.

1.                  Kathie Beals, Ph.D., R.D.

Associate professor, clinical, division of nutrition, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

2.                  Amy Campbell, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

Manager, clinical education programs, healthcare services, Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston

3.                  Lawrence Cheskin, M.D.

Founder and director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, Baltimore

4.                  Michael Davidson, M.D.

Director of preventive cardiology, University of Chicago Medical Center

5.                  Marion Franz, M.S., R.D.

Nutrition and health consultant, Nutrition Concepts by Franz, Inc., Minneapolis

6.                  Teresa Fung, Sc.D., R.D., L.D.N.

Associate professor of nutrition, Simmons College, Boston

7.                  Andrea Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D.

Spokesperson, American Dietetic Association, Los Angeles

8.                  Carole V. Harris, Ph.D.

Codirector, West Virginia University School of Medicine Health Research Center, Morgantown

9.                  Sachiko St. Jeor , Ph.D., R.D.

Professor and founder of the Weight Management Clinic, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno

10.                  David Katz, M.D., M.P.H.

Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.


11.                  Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D.

Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.

12.                  Robert Kushner, M.D.

Clinical director, Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity, Chicago

13.                  JoAnn Manson, M.D., Dr.P.H.

Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

14.                  Lori Mosca, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D.

Director of preventive cardiology, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, N.Y.

15.                  Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Ph.D., R.D. :

Assistant professor of epidemiology and population health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York

16.                  Elisabetta Politi, R.D., M.P.H., L.D.N.

Nutrition director, Duke University Diet and Fitness Center, Durham, N.C.

17.                  Rebecca Reeves, R.D., Dr.P.H., M.P.H.

Former assistant professor and managing director, Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston

18.                  Michael Rosenbaum, M.D.

Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Clinical Medicine and Associate Director of the Clinical Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, N.Y.

19.                  Lisa Sasson, R.D.

Clinical associate professor of nutrition, food studies and public health, New York University

20.                  Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., R.D.

Professor, department of food science and nutrition, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

21.                  Laurence Sperling, M.D.

Director of preventive cardiology, Emory Clinic, Atlanta

22.                  Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

Director, Food and Brand Lab, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.



Categories: Healthcare, Paleo in the News


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. says

    Thank you and your colleagues for publishing this. So often mainstream summary indictments of paleo-style eating are shrugged of by the paleo community. “They just don’t understand…they haven’t read the science…they’re stuck in their ways…it’s all based on conventional wisdom…”

    Your willingness to furnish the studies and hard science on which paleo eating is based demonstrates a credibility clearly lacking on the part of U.S. News.

  2. paleoslayer says

    I now question EVERYTHING I read in mainstream media. It doesn’t mean its all false, it just means you have to go check the facts for yourself.

    GrumpyOldCaveMan says:
    In my day we didn’t choooose this or that diet.. we ate whatever we could kill or forage and some days that was just leaves and maggots, but that’s the way it was and you liked it! you loved it!
    We didnt count calories or measure portion sizes! we stuffed ourselves silly in the summer and starved in the winter! We’d sport 6pack abs in the spring and love handles in the fall! Woop de do look at me, im a fat slob and now im going to sleep for 14hrs a day for the next 6 months cuz there was nuthin to do and no place to go!

  3. Dan P. -Lakeside CA says

    Wow, I better tell my body that the Paleo diet is no good for me. I’ve lost 87 pounds since 12/01/10 and my triglycerides have gone from 126 to 75. My fasting glucose is down 8 points to 95 and my HDLs went from 43 to 59. Not bad for a diet that isn’t healthy for me. I’m sure that Crossfit kicking my butt had a little something to do with it.

    Thanks Rob for savings my life, Literally.
    Dan P.

  4. PaulL says

    All that fancy scientifical talk is nice and all, but, you could just be making all this stuff up and I’d never know.

    Really, all I want to know is, as one of the 6 listeners, can I still have my 5 fries or not?

      • Jen B. says

        Hey! make that 8 listeners!! We’re Robb Wolf disciplines. THANK YOU for saving OUR lives. We are so grateful to you for putting the information out there with the science behind it that we can actually understand. We have two “gurus” we call on for paleo info – Brandon Corie and Bryan Drake – they are dedicated to spreading the word about Paleo and we have literally referred hundreds of people to you. I keep copies of the Book Resources from the website in my office and when people ask, I hand it to them.

        I don’t care what mainstream media says – this “diet” (lifestyle) works and my better half has the lab results to prove it. Ten years of lab results that said he was really sick and no one could figure out why. Two months on Paleo and his lab results were perfect.

        You have been a beacon of light for this family and I appreciate your hard work in getting the information out there. It’s selfless and you are just awesome.

        Jen & Alex

  5. says

    Wow! Could it be that those researchers who depend on that grant money funded by these sub-par nutritional food companies are firing off finally?? This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It seems to me that people don’t see the power that foods have, the addition that they cause, so far that they defend them to end??

    I have been doing a 14 Fat Flush experiment (which is essentially Paleo) with my boot campers and the average fat loss, using calipers, is 8 pounds. Man, those are horrible numbers!

    • says

      Shame on yoou for getting your clients results and improving their health! You are pulling them out of the pharma-medical system and will bankrupt the whole thing!

    • April says

      I’m curious though whether the “experts” on the study were provided with a packet of info researched and assembled by USA Today staff, asked to review it, and then provide rankings for each of the diets.

      It’s hard for me to believe that directors, managers, professors, etc would have much time to invest in such a study. Especially for such a “prestigious scientific journal” as USA Today.

      I tend to this was more of a cause than being affected by the agendas of their financial backing.

  6. Alisha says

    But wasn’t the food pyramid PERFECT?? I thought it was the best thing alive, said the flab around my waist. Good grief. The sad part is people will read the U.S. News article and take it at face value. Just like we need to “feed” our bodies right by making the best nutritional and health decisions, we also need to “feed” our brains right. Thanks for the rebuttal. Education is KEY!

  7. says

    Good rebuttal. By the way, check out the public ratings (expanding as we speak) of the number of people who say they’ve been helped or not by each of the 20 diets. That’s enough censure in itself, I daresay!

  8. Frank Conley says

    I went from Atkins and have drifted into Paleo. I suppose you can lose lots of weight. I haven’t tried, but I’ve lost some (went from 40 waist to 36) weight, and I eat like a pig, mostly meats and fruit. My stamina is great for an old guy, as is my blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. CTS (Consider The Source) with US News & World Report. They have revenues to consider. They might lose an advertising client if they say the wrong thing.

  9. Barb says

    Hi Robb and thanks for posting this. As a formerly obese, diabetic person turned Nutritionist, I was appalled to see all of the crap “diets” placing ahead of the far superior Paleo diet. I think that the author appears to just be pandering to the most popular, rather than doing the research.

    I appreciate Dr. Cordain taking the time to write the rebuttal, and thanks again for posting it here.

  10. Nichole says

    In 80 days I’ve lost nearly 40lb and reversed my insulin resistance, got the word yesterday I can go off metformin :). My LDL went down, my HDL went up. My doctor gave me an A+ and he and his wife started eating paleo a week ago. You have helped to change my life. Thank you for all you do and for bringing this amazing way of life to the masses. Nice rebuttal.

  11. peter says

    I think that the most compelling thing to look at is that under each diet is a section to answer if this diet has worked for you. ATM it reads Yes 1763, No 46. Compared with the #1 diet Yes 71, No 300.

    • Tyler says

      Right now it’s
      Yes: 2101, No: 52, Haven’t Tried: 206

      Second place is Weight Watchers,
      Yes: 1203, No: 615, Haven’t Tried: 160

  12. Joe says

    Interesting that the US News and World Report website has a “Did this diet work for you” poll, and the one that received an overwhelming “yes” vote was Paleo. Seems one of its main criticisms of the Paleo diet was that it didn’t align well with the USDA recommendations. Ironic?

  13. says

    I too reversed Type 2 diabetes with paleo! I am a converted vegan/raw foodist of 15 years who gave herself Type 2 eating that way! Paleo works man!

  14. Sara says

    I appreciate the rebuttal – it helps to have the salient facts shored up in my brain when the fear mongers come.

    Most of the information you presented was old hat to me, but I was surprised at the distinction between fresh meats and what I would term as cured meats

    “Actually, the most recent comprehensive meta-analyses and reviews do not show fresh meat consumption whether fat or lean to be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (30-34), only processed meats such as salami, bologna, bacon and sausages (30).”

    Do you have any insight into the different between fresh and cured? Do you think it has to do with the added nitrates/nitrates? Do you think there would be a marked difference between mainstream cured meats and the naturally produced ones?

    I may have to rethink our breakfast routine.

  15. says

    I usually don’t pay any attention to these junk articles in the media, but they do mislead a lot of people, which is a shame. Very well done rebuttal, let the sharing commence!

  16. says

    Hi Rob! I just received your book (The Paleo Solution) from Amazon yesterday. I’m excited to try something that looks like it will atually work! I have one question. Can I keep my coffee? I think I can do anything if I can just have my coffee in the morning. I’m skimming the book for the answer too.

    • Petros says

      whilst its not optimal; the general answers seem to be in the realms of “if you’re not suffering adrenal problems then yes you can keep you’re coffee but you can over-do it. I tend to drink 1-3 cups of black coffee or espresso a day (sometimes I don’t drink any though) and I seem to be doing fine with my weight loss still.

      So yea, if you can avoid any Sugar/milk in you’re coffee that’s much better (alternatives: heavy whipping cream or coconut milk/cream seem to be a popular choice but I haven’t tried them, after a short period eating this way I really started enjoying it black).

      They do talk about coffee a LOT on the pod-cast so look there if you’d like Robb to drill the science into you as I am by no means an expert :)

  17. says

    with the selective literacy and logic the consulted ‘experts’ employ, it’s apparent that the fastest way to show them how effective the paleo diet is would be to play a game of scrabble. show them how you automatically win with a triple nerd score by spelling paleodiet and they’ll have to accept the truth.

  18. Jason says

    Hey Rob, you are very inspirational. Even if you’re just the ‘jabber’ like you say, there has to be someone people can trust to spread out the facts of proper nutrient and living the healthy, disease free life by how and what we eat. Because obviously by this article in US News, we can’t rely on the government to lead us down the best healthy and disease free path of nutrition. Thanks again

  19. chris Decker says

    Robb, in the study that concluded that milk resulted in insulin resistance, do you knbow if the milk was raw, grass-fed, and organic, or factory-farmed and pasturized? Thanks. Chris Decker

  20. Greg Goebel says

    Awesome work Rob!!!
    I am 43 and have been 80% Paleo for a year and a half and am healthier than ever in my life. Started out at 190 pounds (high Cholesterol and Glucose) Now 150 and Lipids are Outstanding!! My doctor could not believe it. 1/2 way thru your book (Awesome) I used to work out 2 hrs a day…I wish I knew back then I was doing it all wrong!!!

  21. Melissa says

    Hello Robb;
    I listen to your podcasts offen, but haven’t commented before. I just wanted to say thanks for your excellent rebuttal. I read that bias U.S News article and just got madder and madder at the comments from said “experts”. I enjoy paleo/primal eating and I’m very happy with the consistent 1 to 2 pounds weight loss I’ve been getting each week. I’ve read your book, Primal Blueprint, and Why We Get Fat and have applied those books to my diet and lifestyle; I will continue to do so regardless of what the government recommends because I know what my scale says and what my cholesterol count is.

    Keep it up,


  22. Darcy says

    This has probably already been mentioned but I don’t have time to read all the comments so forgive me if I’m repeating but in reading that article what I found most interesting (I don’t trust US News as a nutrition authority so their opinion wasn’t particular interesting to me) is the links at the bottom of the lists asking people whether or not the particular diet had worked for them. If you notice all of the ‘top’ diets have way more no’s than yes’s clicked and only Weight Watchers, Atkins, and Paleo having more yes’s than no’s. With Paleo having the highest average by far of success in helping people!! How odd that the ‘worst’ diet is the one that works most often…

  23. Traci says

    My parents moved in to our house late March, it’s now mid-June, my father has gone from 215 to 185, eating Paleo. He LOVES it, which is amazing, ’cause he’s a junk food junkie. The man used to live off fried burritos and chicken pot pies. My husband has had stomach problems all his life, and doesn’t anymore, now that we’ve cut out the gluten and dairy. I’ve always had my own problems, which are now completely gone.

    I just have to say, I don’t care what anyone says, I’m doing what makes me and my family feel good–and Paleo is it. Thank you. :]

  24. Stacey says

    It’s articles like this and that stupid food pyramid that has kept me in pain 20+ years. I tried to eat “healthy” all of my life. A few months after I really got disciplined and started eating only whole grains, low fat, etc… made several trips to the ER and was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s. I am so thankful that my GI doc turned me on to Paleo, Loren, and to! Otherwise, I would still be eating “healthy” whole grains and suffering. The book and podcasts are great! Thanks for all you do!

  25. says

    An outstanding reveal, I just brought this to a coworker who has recently been doing a little work about this. And he actually bought me breakfast for I found this for him.. LOL. For that reason let me say that: Robb Wolf, Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this. Big thumb up for this post!

  26. jason lee says

    Ok I read the rebuttal. But what about people doing intense workouts like insanity? Is the diet still healthy for them and why would the US news tear down the diet wouldn’t they want people to be healthy?

  27. says

    There are many weight control recipes that not only help you lose weight but also taste great too. The trick to eating healthy is to eat smaller portions and use less fat when cooking.

    Controlling your weight through food is not hard but it does take some practice and getting used to.

  28. LEM says

    I’ve enjoyed the paleo diet lifestyle for a few months now. I have to ask though, could we be looking at a logical fallacy regarding the critical look at milk, for example? Store bought, pasteurized, factory produced milk is far from being raw milk from pastured, grass fed cows. It’s like the recommendation to avoid red meat. Which red meat? Processed meats? Meats from grain fed cattle? Isn’t it important for paleo dieters to obtain grass red meat from grass fed cattle, grass giving the meat a natural balance of Omega fats? See how annoying that is?
    Let’s make sure we qualify the items of every argument carefully before we lump them all together. If raw milk can sustain a calf for several weeks, it’s probably got plenty of vitamins in its natural state.

    I’d really like to see a debate between Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Mr. Wolf.

  29. burntorangehorn says

    One thing that the paleo movement is more prone to forget is that while yes, our ancestors may have eaten in a certain way, they also had a very different lifestyle from what anyone and everyone lives today. Even if one could truly replicate the diet of those days, eliminating domesticated meats, cultivated produce, etc., the level of activity that ancestral beings undertook out of survival was far higher than almost anyone would undertake today.

    Anecdotal evidence neither sets nor disproves rules, and it works both ways. While a person who has accomplished his or her dietary goals through paleo certainly shows that one can accomplish such goals that way, it also does not mean that the diet’s relative strengths and weaknesses make it better (or worse) than certain other diets. My diet involves a great deal of agrifoods, as none of my meat is wild, most of my produce is farmed/gardened, and I have no qualms with produce that has been genetic-selectively bred into its current forms by human agriculture (broccoli, cabbage, kale, potato, etc.). I even eat a number of grains, mostly as oatmeal and whole-grain breads. But even with this diet that probably approaches 100% non-paleo principles, my body composition, blood pressure, nutrient intake, cholesterol levels, metabolic rate, resting heart rate, athletic capacity, and other measurables are and always have been extremely strong.

    Look, taking on a diet to which one can adhere is more important than the specifics of the different factions, as long as that diet involves few empty calories, sufficient nutrients, and life compatibility. Did you lose 100lbs. on paleo? Great! That means it works for you! But others can achieve similar, inferior, or superior results on other diets (Mediterranean, south beach, whatever) if those are more suitable for what they’re trying to accomplish, their eating preferences, etc. Chalking up one’s success to draconian peculiarities of a specific fad diet, rather than to the concept of being on a logical diet (that is, not a eat-all-the-ice-cream-you-want or bacon-and-chocolate diet) and increasing physical activity, is really missing the point.

  30. Dave P. says

    I like your rebuttal and think that mainstream nutritional ideas are as messed up as mainstream fitness ideas.

    However I take issue with several things:
    1 – The studies you reference in the body of your rebuttal have very small population sizes. Much larger population sizes are needed to increase confidence in their findings.
    2 – At the end of your rebuttal you address specific errors in their findings. The errors you take issue with stem from the low confidence level of current research into Paleo style diets. Scientists cannot use what amounts to circumstantial evidence to support a given thesis.
    3 – Your tone at the end tends towards dogmatic. Why not try to open a dialog rather than saying “This comment shows just how uninformed this writer really is.” for example.

    Fund and undertake larger, reproducible, and scientifically sound studies to fix problems 1 & 2, and relax a bit to fix 3 :-)

    This comes from someone interested in trying a paleo diet, a barefoot running enthusiast, and trained scientist.

    • PineShmyshe says

      I completely echo Dave P’s sentiments. Are there any larger studies in the works? 24 participants seems an awfully low sampling. I do however appreciate the comments from actual users on this site. Mainly due to these comments, I too am inclined to believe the main points of the Paleo diet theory. I am currently reading the Paleo Solution book and I am going to be giving it a full go as soon as I finish the book.

      However, I think, if the Paleo Diet science becomes dogmatic then it also can become as skewed in its proclamations. A question that I would pose is, If 10,000 years isn’t enough to have us more evolved to an agriculture diet, then how long does it take for evolutionary changes to come about? I have a feeling that the thing that we are most unaccustomed to, in our current evolution,is not as much the switch to agricultural based foods, which happened over 10,000 years ago, but the more recent switch to manufacturing based agriculture and processing, which has been only in the last 100 years.

      But like I said, I’m going to give it a try since I have enjoyed Robb’s book so far and I believe the comments from the posts that I’ve read here.


    • Fredo Martingale says

      I agree with neededing better sources (1).

      (1) Martingale, Fredo. post on website in reply to another poster

  31. Steve M. says

    Hi Robb,

    Interesting article. You seem to know many of the scientists behind these publications, and I was wondering what sort of background many of these researchers have in statistics. I read several of the papers, and there is very little explanation of the significance tests used to validate their hypotheses.

    As mentioned by the poster above, very strong claims are made about the legitimacy of the paleo diet as a result of these studies. Many significance tests simply confirm that experimental measurements are far enough from the central tendencies of some other population to have occurred by chance, and do not necessarily imply that the variables under consideration were the cause of the variations. It’s better to use such tests as motivations for further study.

    I understand that you feel attacked, and I’m not saying that the board of scientists who wrote the original article were correct, but perhaps you should reel in some of your claims. If you’re going to cite scientific evidence, then you need to engage in responsible science yourself. As a research biochemist, I’m sure you’re aware that the findings of academia often need to be taken with a grain of salt.


  32. Mark Seflin, M.A. says

    It is unfortunate that people continue to be myopic to advance their own personal agenda. When Mr. Wolf produces a 20 year study of dietary habits on this planet, and shows a culture who does not have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, based on his diet then I would listen. The two scientist (T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD- of “Forks Over Knives”) who did such a study (The china study). The fact is our genetic cousins are the great apes…who are vegans (fruits and veges). Plant based diet! I have medical records to prove that a plant based diet will assist in fixing that which is broken. I weighted 275 lbs., diagnosed with diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. I was prescribed 3 different medication (Metiformin, Lisinopril, Lovastatin) After switching to a diet that is actually genetically compatible. My weight is @ 210, blood pressure 120/70-80, blood sugar under 100 fasting, Cholestrol 160, and I no longer need to take any of the medication. I sleep for 4-5 hrs. a day, and on the run the rest of the time.

    • R.H. says

      All of my knowledge in biological anthropology (masters) leaves me to believe that you don’t have a clue about the great apes and what separates us. Our dietary changes ARE what separated us! Read up on hominin life histories my friend. I am glad you got your diabetes under control, but I think that leaving a westernized diet behind in any form has great health benefits. Let’s just remember, humans can eat a lot of anything, but there is an optimal diet out there.

      Forks Over Knives:
      The China study is extremely biased. It would behoove anyone to read up on it. Also, when Norway switched over to a fish-based diet in WWII GREAT things happened to their health. Once again, read up on it.

  33. USNews Re-rebuttal says

    The editors respond: U.S. News reviewed the five cited studies and referenced four of them in this profile. The studies were small and short, making strong conclusions difficult. The “one tiny study” related only to weight loss, not to the Paleo diet broadly.

    Hey but they do explain ho you guy slose weight: “Still, if you build a “calorie deficit” into your Paleo plan—eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max, or burning off extra by exercising—you should shed some pounds.”

    But they missed the part about using being dehydrated to bring out yer abs!

  34. says

    I´ve been living paleo-style for 1 1/2 years now. It definitely works nicely for many of my problems (IBS and others). No magic pill but very close to it!
    This article covered many of my wondering and was very informative in many ways. Thank you.

  35. Loretta Lanting says

    Hi Robb,

    I love your persistence and rebuttals to all those who do not see the evidence that you have seen presented. My neurologist believes that I have a rare form of Sjogren’s Syndrome, an auto-immune disease. Mine is located, currently, in the brain only, with swelling, set off by an unknown cause and labelled with this disease title after testing of various sorts. This was based on a lip biopsy after a brain biopsy was not helpful.

    I am a great fan especially of Loren Cordain’s and therefore, also of yours, although, I am less familiar with your book, though I do have it and have read much of it. I do love that you too are a REAL scientist!

    I was following Mark Sisson’s book, the Primal Blueprint as it generally followed the original Paleo Diet book that I had read 10 years earlier. I was still eating lots of dairy. I did lose almost 30 pounds. But, I had had a couple of seizures and brain swelling and I needed real anti-inflammatory help and then was helped by steroids as my brain was swollen and I was losing those important folds in my brain, font left mainly. Then I was on an anti-inflammatory drug which helped when I eventually came across Dr. Cordain’s The Paleo Answer, 2012 book! I started the stricter version of the diet, stopped the daily chocolate bars which were part of the “dairy” which I figured was my version of allowable under Mark Sisson’s version of things, the fat in the chocolate kept the blood sugar relatively stable went my logic…..I did not cheat with other sugar ever! I had my decaf tea with milk (more dairy) five times per day at least.

    So, I switched to Loren Cordain’s recommendations and I found your book too and found that you were a biochemist. I like all of you scientists as I have a biology background myself and think in a scientific way and appreciate and relate to good scientific reasoning and understanding as that is how I was trained in both the UK and US. I was a science teacher, so I greatly want to encourage your spreading of your knowledge and understanding to us all. There are so many people who will benefit from your work and efforts, myself included. It is SO MUCH appreciated!!!!!! This is life saving to millions and it is quality of life saving to others. Really!

    Getting back to my story, I have lost almost 50 pounds and my BMI, body mass index, as measured by my home scales, has gone down by 8 points from 33 to 25. My weight from 194 to 146 lbs. while on the paleo diet. It has been slow. Currently, I am losing about 1 pound per week. BMI is not going down much as I am not exercising. I just am on my feet a lot processing my food, cutting grass, moving boxes and so on. I’ve been moving my home office upstairs and doing some home organizing projects, so these have taken some of my time recently. I have been changing out my plastic kitchen bowls to stainless steel and pyrex and other glass brands. I have wooden chopping boards and a glass one (which is less good for the knives). I have changed over my pantry to containing paleo spices, oils, herbs, herbal teas, dried fruits and raw nuts and metal measuring spoons and part-cup measures.

    I will add in exercise next once I have finished locating local farmers markets and farmers who produce grass-fed animals and organic vegetables also. I have some of these under my belt, but have more to visit.

    I have started a local paleo group so that local people who are interested in this lifestyle can gather and share information and learn more. I also want to go visit other groups to see how they run their groups as I have not got a response from their leaders via Facebook.

    I need to start blogging, but have not yet. I could reach more people this way. What I have read online is from people doing paleo for fad and non-medical reasons. I need to do the strict version for my anti-inflammatory needs, so I can’t relate to many of the posted recipes, for instance. They are fun, but not for me or people with auto-immune disease needs like me.

    So, I’m still in the information gathering and learning phase. I have met two real paleo people over the last few days, so will be learning from both of them. And will be in touch with cross-fitters when I get back home from my current trip to see who else I can meet. I am desperate to learn more and to get support.

    I live in Fort Collins, Colorado, same town as Loren Cordain, believe it or not! I did meet a very nice man from the Environmental Sciences Department at CSU who has been paleo for 7 years who I would like to meet again also.

  36. Neal Thibedeau says

    Unfortunately for the Paleo Diet, many people
    pervert it’s intent. The Cross-Fit Cult has convinced
    many of our friends that Bacon, and Bacon Grease, can make
    up a huge part of a safe Paleo Diet, which is obviously ridiculous
    and very dangerous, not to mention specifically warned against
    within the Paleo guidelines themselves.

    Any idea where this love affair with Bacon
    came from?

    ‘Actually, the most recent comprehensive meta-analyses and reviews do not show fresh meat consumption whether fat or lean to be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (30-34), only processed meats such as salami, bologna, bacon and sausages (30).’

  37. says

    This was a very well-written and sourced rebuttal. Good job. I am reading up on the Paleo diet and had read numerous articles (all in mainstream media) saying what a complete scam it was. Reading your rebuttal, including source links, has kept me on my goal to go Paleo 100% within the month. Thanks.

  38. says

    Hey Robb,

    Thanks for all your hard work spreading the work.

    Dross like the US News article are still doing the rounds here in Australia at the usually decent newspaper – the Sydney Morning Herald.

    I wrote a rebuttal to their recent article.


    I’d be honoured if you had the time and inclination to take a look.

    All the best,


  39. Jeremy H says

    This “rebuttal” seems to confirm what the original article claims: that the “studies were small and short, making strong conclusions difficult.”

    The study with the aboriginals contained 10 people. And it’s not only their diet that changed. They switched from their characteristically sedentary western lifestyle and resumed an active aboriginal lifestyle of hunting and gathering. How do we know these benefits weren’t in fact derived from a more active lifestyle.

    It’s intuitive that virtually any diet that moves us away from the carbohydrate and transfat-loaded eating patterns that Western society seems to be trapped in is going to lead to positive outcomes (barring some of the odd, extreme diets that lack nutrients). The question is, how does the Paleo diet really stack up against some of these other diets.

    4 years after the writing of this rebuttal, and there still seems to exist a lack of peer-reviewed evidence that the Paleo diet has much to offer beyond the traditional list of fad diets.

  40. says

    Thanks for updating the recent research Squatchy. I try not to go on rants too often but this page and the recent links by Squatchy are what I left behind in a conversation about this article:

    I took a quick glance at Traci’s work on her research page ( ) and at first blush I appreciate her concern that “dieting” (as defined traditionally) is bad on many levels, I just don’t agree with the conclusions she comes to: “dieting does not work”.


    • says

      One thing I’m pretty sure if is that the ADA recommendations of “limit no foods, just portion sizes” is a guarantee of failure. Paleo, vegan, LC, whatever the approach, limiting food options DOES work. The ADA needs to get onboard with Gretchen Rubins work and realize that 50% of the population are “abstainers”. If they are to succeed, they just need to completely bypass certain things. Instead, they doom us all to failure.

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